On October 1, 2020, Boracay reopened its borders to local tourists from areas classified under General Community Quarantine (GCQ). And, this was the third reopening in a span of two years. Each one for a different reason. The first was on October 26, 2018, after a 6-month closure to rehabilitate the island. The second was on June 16, 2020 to tourists from the Western Visayas Region, after three months of quarantine.
Boracay reopening after a 6-month rehabilitation
On October 26, 2018, exactly two years ago today, Boracay reopened after six months of closure for rehabilitation. I booked one of the early flights to be one of the first few to capture the island’s “restored” beauty on video. I stayed on the island for two weeks and was able to publish a vlog on my Youtube channel. Watch it here.
In January 2019, I came back for a two-week vacation. Opportunity knocked to work and lead a more peaceful life on the island. I knew I had to seize the chance. In barely two months, I finished all of my commitments in Metro Manila. And on April 9, 2019, I packed my bags, got on a boat and left for the island for good.
Long story short, I ended up juggling three jobs: a Marketing Officer of a travel agency, a Managing Partner of an apartelle and a bar tender. I was on a roll! Things were looking pretty good.
Strike 1: Ursula
Tourism started to pick up. Then, a super storm, known locally as Typhoon Ursula, struck unleashing ruin on Boracay a day prior to Christmas of 2019. Ursula left the island, literally, in the dark for a good three weeks. We spent the holidays without electricity, telecommunication and internet connection. None of my family and friends knew the extent of Ursula’s destruction. Power and telecommunication were only restored by the second week of January 2020.
Strike 2: Taal
We, on the island, remained steadfast and had high hopes in recovering our business losses as we geared up for the influx of tourists for the Chinese New Year celebration. Then, Taal, the world’s smallest volcano, erupted on January 12, 2020. Flights and hotel bookings got cancelled. Tourists got stranded. Business on the island slowed down yet again.
I said to myself, “This, too, shall pass.”
I checked my booking calendar and saw that I still had guest reservations for the upcoming summer and Holy Week. Enough to tide me over. Better days ahead, or so I thought.
Strike 3: COVID-19
On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organinization declared the ‘2019 novel coronavirus’ or ‘2019-nCoV (COVID-19) as a global pandemic. This resulted to the Philippine government’s decision to close the country’s borders on March 16, 2020. That was when everything started to crumble. No more travel inquiries. No more apartelle bookings. More cancellations. No more bar to tend. No more tourists to entertain. It was time to close shop and let go.
By April 2020, I was jobless. Even my online work as a marketing consultant was put to a halt. I entertained myself during the lockdown and created a Tiktok account.
Boracay reopening to Western Visayas
On June 16, 2020, Boracay reopened to tourists coming from Western Visayas. The low influx of visitors was not enough to reboot the island’s economy. The same beachcombers frequented the beach front day in and day out.
Boracay reopening to the rest of the country under GCQ
On October 1, 2020, after nearly seven months, Boracay reopened to local tourists from areas classified under General Community Quarantine (GCQ).
Requirements for tourists from GCQ areas:
- RT-PCR (Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) Negative result with three days (72 hours) validity before arrival. Here is a list of hospitals with RT-PCR Tests ranging from 1750-2000 pesos:
- Online health declaration. Click here.
- Confirmed booking hotel/resort accommodation with DOT Accreditation and Certificate of Authority to Operate (CAO). Here’s the list of accredited establishments with CAO in Western Visayas as of October 21, 2020:
Here is why you should visit Boracay now and what to expect:
The country’s top island destination remains to be COVID-free and we aim to keep it that way. Safety protocols are in place and are strictly adhered to by the establishments. We religiously wear our face masks and shields and we regularly wash our hands. We maintain social distancing, too, and we expect our visitors to do the same.
Take advantage of the budget-friendly rates offered by some of the luxury hotels on the island. Book a 5-star accommodation at an uber discounted rate. Discounts range from 50% to 75% off published rates. Average room rate per night is Php 2500, good for two adults. If you are lucky, you might even get free breakfast.
The Henann Group of Resorts has partner third party providers that offer RT-PCR Tests at a decent cost.
White Beach All To Yourself
If you love peace and quiet, Boracay is perfect. Not too many distractions. Just you, the sun, sand and sea. Enjoy it while it lasts.
Based on the Boracay Tourists Arrival Data as of October 25, 2020, the average daily number of tourists arrivals is 78. Slowly, tourism is starting to pick up. However, this is a far cry from the average daily number of tourists during the first 10 months of 2019, i .e. 5,808.
No sunset in Boracay is the same. Watch the picturesque sunset in awe while enjoying your favorite cocktail in one of the beach front restaurants or while strolling on the beach for that much needed exercise or while taking a dip in the crystal clear waters of Boracay.
Swimming is allowed from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. in designated parts of White Beach and Puka Beach. Senior citizens and children are allowed to swim.
There is an islandwide curfew from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. the next day. As the great Benjamin Franklin aptly put it, “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” 🤪
Select Food and Drinks Establishments
Below are some of the food and drinks establishments that are open amidst the pandemic:
My Boracay Guide updates their list of partner establishments weekly. Click here.
Aside from potentially acquiring COVID-19, the exorbitant cost of the RT- PCR Test is a major factor preventing the local tourists from ultimately visiting Boracay.
Last week, I got a call from a “celebrity” friend. She is planning to celebrate her birthday on the island this November with family and friends. She told me that the unit cost of the RT-PCR Test or swab test is a whopping Php 10,000. The cost of the RT-PCR Test is way too expensive than an airline roundtrip ticket and a 5-star hotel accommodation combined. I hope the government can do something to regulate it. The swab test is non-negotiable as we strive to be COVID-free. I spoke to some of the locals. An E-trike driver told me that he would rather have less tourists than put himself and his family at risk of getting infected.
Picking Up The Pieces
Admittedly, it has been a long and arduous journey. This is true not just for me but for everyone living on the island. Seven months and counting. COVID-19 made me realize a lot of things. One of them is to seize the day. We are all on borrowed time. Let us make use of this extra time to better ourselves and our relationships.
I had to put many of my plans on hold. Some cancelled. Sad and scary even. Pushed to the wall. Helpless. Sometimes I would find myself floating in the deeper part of the sea, looking up the sky, imagining (waiting) for a comet to suddenly appear to come crashing towards me. Oh well… life goes on… Life must go on. Thanks to my family and friends who constantly remind me to keep the Faith. No way but up, Boracay. Pick up the pieces and look forward to another Boracay reopening soon… this time to the world.